Wallaroos "fantastic" welcome for Black Ferns showdown

Published 4:18pm 19 June 2023

Wallaroos "fantastic" welcome for Black Ferns showdown
Words by Nick Crockford

The Wallaroos were given a traditional welcome in Caboolture today ahead of their international blockbuster against New Zealand’s world champion Black Ferns in Redcliffe next week.

Prop Madi Schuck said at Tullawong State High School, the Australia’s women’s rugby union team was "pumped, ready" and “the hungriest we’ve ever been to beat New Zealand”.

The Wallaroos go into camp on the Gold Coast this week ahead of the trans-Tasman international at Kayo Stadium on Thursday week June 29 (7pm). For tickets click here.

However, Schuck and fellow prop Eva Karpani were at a welcome to country and smoking ceremony at Tullawong SHS which, like Kayo Stadium, is on Gubbi Gubbi land.

They were greeted by students and Uncle Brad – Gubbi Gubbi elder Bradley Stephenson, a teacher at the school - and presented a First Nations shirt, which will be worn next week.

Wallaroos "fantastic" welcome for Black Ferns showdown
Tullawong students and teachers join Wallaroos Madi Schuck and Eva Karpani and Uncle Brad today.

“It is fantastic we’re able to have the game played on Gubbi Gubbi land,” Uncle Brad said. “To present the jersey to the school and know we have that connection with the Wallaroos.”

More than 5000 tickets have already been sold as the Australian women’s team, founded almost 30 years ago, looks to beat New Zealand for the first time.

“We’ve a history of so close but so far,” Schuck said. “For the girls it’s a case of snapping that and turning history in our favour.

“We’ve come close a couple of times to finishing the game and showing what Australian rugby really is.”

“The Wallaroos always start fast and strong. New Zealand always bring it home. We have to make sure we don’t lose momentum.”

Wallaroos "fantastic" welcome for Black Ferns showdown
Dreamtime storytelling in the yarning circle. Picture Brendan Hertel/Rugby Australia

It is an incursion by rugby union into “League land”, with Rugby Australia using the international fixture to also launch First Nation’s Month.

“This is very much rugby league land up here, but we want to celebrate what our girls can do, what rugby can do and the communities,” RA’s Head of Inclusion Amy Perrett said.

“We’re big on coming into schools like this, celebrating culture and showing the kids they’ve got more role models.”

Madi Schuck loved the traditional welcome saying which she “never got to experience growing up, but now, at the top level of my sport, it is becoming part of the game.

“I really enjoy coming to these events, getting the welcome, joining the yarning circle. It’s always been a special month," she said.

Wallaroos "fantastic" welcome for Black Ferns showdown
Wallaroos Eva Karpani (left) and Madi Schuck (second right) with Tullawong students and junior rugby players Tabitha (second left) and Heidi (right). Picture Brendan Hertel/Rugby Australia

“Last year was the first I got to wear it with the (Queensland) Reds and Australia. It has a special place in my heart.

“Everyone asks for your jersey afterwards but it’s one of those I’ll never ever, ever, give away.”

Uncle Brad said the ceremonies were “our way of saying welcome, it’s our way of saying thank you for joining with us to celebrate and share our culture.

“We like to make sure people understand who we are and how important land is to us and country is to us.

“For thousands of years our people have walked these lands and nurtured these lands. What you see today is the work they did over thousands of years.”

Wallaroos "fantastic" welcome for Black Ferns showdown
Madi Schuck, left and Eva Karpani present a First Nations jersey to Tullawong State High School. Picture Brendan Hertel/Rugby Australia

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